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Sleeping Beauty at the Richmond Theatre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 11th Dec 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

Maureen Lipman as the Wicked Fairy in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden - Copy.jpg

Maureen Lipman as Carabosse

For the first time in my life I feel free! 

The traditional pantomime at the Richmond Theatre is one of the highlights of the year in this lovely town, offering delightful entertainment for the entire family with amazing stage designs, beautiful costumes and featuring at least one big star. This year it is Maureen Lipman's turn to appear as the evil fairy Carabosse, a part she has played before with great success.

The show definitely focusses on the younger members of the audience. The foyer of the theatre is decorated as a castle and the show starts off with the announcement: "Turn off your mobile phone and turn up the volume of your children!", which was met with happy screaming as the curtain rose to a village scene right out of a fairy tale picture book and Princess Beauty's first day outside the castle walls. Closely guarded by Nurse Mollycoddle (Matt Rixon) aka "Nursie", Beauty discovers the excitement of the real world together with her friend Chester (Chris Jarvis), the court jester, Both Chris Jarvis and Matt Rixon know how to connect with the younger members of the audience, making Chester and Nursie truly endearing characters.

Lauren Hood as Princess Beauty, Matthew Rixon as Nanny and Dan Partridge as Prince Antonio in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugd

Nursie (Matt Rixon) protecting Beauty's (Lauren Hood) innocence from the bold Prince (Dan Partridge)

And Maureen Lipman enjoys every second of her performance as Carabosse, accepting boos and hisses as her special badge of honour. Arriving in a dragon wagon and wearing a sexy vamp outfit, Carabosse is a formidable sight indeed. And she becomes ever more frightening when she begins to sing, making Florence Foster Jenkins appear a gifted opera diva in comparison. Accompanied by devils and ravens, the fearsome Carabosse announces that her curse on Beauty will take effect before Beauty's 18th birthday.

Meanwhile Beauty is taking a walk in the forest where she encounters the dashing Prince of Aragon (Dan Patridge), who is in search of a bride - and it seems that he has found her! Yet before the Prince can present himself to Beauty's parents and ask the King for the hand of his daughter, Carabosse's curse fulfills itself and Beauty falls into a 100-year long sleep whilst the Prince is abducted by Carabosse who means to make him her husband. 

Tilly Ford as Lilac Fairy (front centre) and the Ensemble in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Credit Craig Sugden.jpg

The Lilac Fairy (Tilly Ford) in all her splendour

The book by Eric Potts does not offer a lot of surprises but the children loved the colourful show, directed by Chris Jarvis, which emphasises humour rather than romance. The adults in the audience appreciated the local references and the satirical quips on current political events and had as much fun as the children when some of the gifts in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song were replaced by other less desirable items. The music includes pop songs from the 1970s through today, including the "Time Warp" which takes us back to Beauty's childhood when she grew up with the "Chiswick Chav".

Apart from the lovely Lauren Hood and Dan Partridge as the princely couple, the excellent Maureen Lipman as Carabosse, the delightful Chris Jarvis as Chester and the endearing Matt Rixon as Nursie, one must not forget to mention Graham James and Tania Newton as Beauty's parents - the King who is somewhat hard of hearing and his Chiswick-Queen.

The stage design and costumes were often held in pink which might have pleased many of the little girls in the audience but I don't think the boys minded too much either.

A delightful evening out for the whole family. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 8th January 2017

Richmond Theatre
The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including one interval

Tickets: http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Photographs by Craig Sugden.

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